The Complet Guide to Chicken Dewormer

dewormer chickens

Chickens are a great addition to any small farm or homestead. They are fun, interesting, and make enjoyable companions all while producing eggs for you to eat or sell. While chickens are generally easy to keep, they do require some regular care to keep them healthy. One of the things chickens need is regular deworming.

When to Deworm Chickens

It can be hard to know when you should deworm your chickens, as they may not show any signs of having worms. It is important to watch for symptoms of worms in your chickens. This way you can make sure that you treat them with chicken dewormer before the worms harm them. Some common signs of worms in chickens are:

  • Diarrhea: Droppings will be loose and watery. Chickens may have droppings stuck to the feathers under their tails.
  • A decrease in the number of eggs: Your chickens will lay fewer eggs than usual. There may be a sudden drop in egg production or it may decrease slowly.
  • Loss of Weight: Chickens may carry less weight than before. They may look or feel bony, even though they have plenty of food available.
  • Pale egg yolks: The egg yolks may look very pale yellow instead of a deep, rich yellow or orange that is seen with healthy chickens.
  • Shaking heads: Chickens with worms may shake their heads frequently. Usually, there is no sign of any other reason for the head shaking.
  • Coughing: Chickens with worms will often cough or have raspy breath sounds. Healthy chickens rarely cough or have breathing issues. This is a definite sign of a problem.
  • Lethargic: Your birds may seem very lethargic, totally lacking in energy or enthusiasm. They are likely to be uninterested in eating, scratching, or other usual activities.
  • Death: Worms that go undiagnosed can cause chickens to die for seemingly no reason. A dead chicken may be the result of a problem that is limited to that chicken alone. However, most often it signals a problem that might be affecting the entire flock.

If your chickens have worms you are unlikely to actually see them, though in some cases they may be visible. Most worms stay hidden inside their host’s body and the only evidence is often the presence of worm eggs. Since the eggs passed are microscopic, you’d need help from your veterinarian to accurately diagnose them this way.

Kinds of Worms that Affect Chickens

deworming chickens

Chickens get worms because they live outside and eat things that carry worms, such as different kinds of bugs and slugs. They can also be infected when they forage for food in an area that has been contaminated by the feces of other animals.

Worms or worm eggs can survive outside of a host for a year or more. This means they can lie there on the ground just waiting to be picked up by your chickens. A good chicken dewormer will kill most kinds of worms that your chickens are likely to have.

Some of the more common worms that chickens get infected with include the following:

  • Hairworm or Capillaria: This worm can be found in several different places in a chicken. This includes the intestine, crop, esophagus, and proventriculus (stomach). The hairworm is very thin, which is where it gets its name. It is usually only bout 1 to 2 cm long. Chickens can pick up this worm from all kinds of things they may eat, including earthworms. Hair worms will damage the internal organs of infected chickens and can ultimately kill them. A chicken dewormer that targets this parasite will get rid of hairworms.
  • Roundworm: This common parasite gets into chickens through hosts such as earthworms and from the presence of wild birds. It commonly is passed through a flock by contamination of food and water with feces. It can result in the death of infected chickens by blocking their intestines or by stealing nutrition when the chicken eats.
  • Tapeworm: These are segmented worms that affect chickens around the world. Tapeworms rob chickens of the nutrients they need to live and to produce eggs. Infected chickens may lose weight or fail to grow or thrive. A tapeworm infestation itself may not kill chickens, but it can impact their general health. This leaves open to contracting a variety of illnesses that could end up killing them if the worms are not removed with a chicken dewormer.
  • Gapeworms: These worms take up residence in the chicken’s windpipe. Affected birds may be seen struggling to breathe, a condition known as the gapes. This is particularly dangerous for young birds and can kill them if a chicken dewormer isn’t used to protect them.

Chicken Deworming

chicken deworming

A variety of commercial chicken dewormers are available that can be used to kill worms in chickens. These will protect them and prevent them from falling victim to these pests.

It is ideal to know the type of worms you are targeting with your chicken dewormer, if possible. However, the use of a good all-purpose chicken dewormer will remove most kinds of worms. If you deworm your chickens and continue to have problems, consult a veterinarian for help.

When you decide to deworm your chickens, you can choose to do it in response to symptoms or as a prophylactic measure. When deworming chickens showing signs of infestation you should deworm them as soon as you notice symptoms of worms.

When deworming chickens as a prophylactic measure, give them chicken dewormer on a schedule. This is done whether they show signs of having worms or not.

Chicken dewormer is readily available from your veterinarian, farm and feed supply stores, and many online sources. Most commercial chicken dewormer contains either fenbendazole, ivermectin, albendazole, or levamisole. Some chicken dewormer can contain more than one of these medications.

Chicken dewormer containing piperazine is also commonly available. While this medication is safe, piperazine only kills roundworms. Fenbendazole and albendazole are also safe and will kill more than one type of worm.

Use caution when deworming your chickens. Chicken dewormer is unlikely to kill all of the worms infecting your chickens, but it does control them. Deworming means that the parasitic worm population in your chickens is reduced. The numbers of parasites are reduced to levels that won’t harm your birds.

Deworming them too frequently won’t get rid of all of the worms. What it will do is to result in the remaining worms becoming resistant to the deworming medications. Many people choose to rotate the type of medicine used to deworm their chickens. This means that the worms encounter a different medication every time, so they’re more likely to be affected.

Natural Chicken Dewormers

Some flock owners believe that the commercially available chicken dewormers are harmful to their chickens. They prefer to use more natural methods, such as herbs and diatomaceous earth. While such methods may have some benefit for chickens, the evidence is limited. There is no scientific proof that worming chickens with such natural methods are effective.

Some people advocate the use of tobacco as a chicken dewormer. The evidence is against this, as it will kill worms but is also likely to harm the chickens. Tobacco is far too harsh for chickens to consume safely.

How to Deworm Chickens

dewormer for chickens

Chicken dewormer is given to chickens in their water or in food. There are two parts to administering chicken dewormer. The first part is to get the dose right. This is especially important in chicken dewormer that is mixed with the chickens’ water.

Too strong of a mixture may harm your chickens. Too weak of a mixture won’t be effective. It’s important to follow the instructions on the chicken dewormer to ensure that it does the job in the safest way possible.

When administering medicated food that contains chicken dewormer, it’s important to remove all other food. If the chickens have a choice, they may refuse to eat the medicated feed. This can result in them not being dewormed effectively, if at all. Small doses can also lead to resistant worms that will no longer be able to be killed by chicken dewormer.

The other part of administering a chicken dewormer to your flock is to make sure they have it available to them for long enough. It’s not going to be enough to put out some chicken dewormer for a day or two.

Most of the time you’ll need to leave the medicated food or water out for as much as a week. This makes sure that all the chickens have gotten enough medication and that the dose has been repeated several times.

Summary

Chickens count on their owners to ensure that they are safe and well-cared for at all times. This means that they need a safe place to live and plenty of food and water. It also means that flock owners must care for the health of their chickens. Chicken dewormer is an important part of that care, as it prevents parasites that can sicken or harm your birds.

Fowl Pox in Chickens: Cause, Treatment and Prevention

fowl pox

You will hear it called fowl pox or avian pox, but either way, fowl pox becomes a catalyst to disease in all avian species, including the chicken. When you have a growing flock of chickens, don’t underestimate the health of your bird. You want to keep them as healthy as possible because the meat will taste better, and the bird will have a higher quality of life.

Some of the other birds susceptible to fowl pox include:

  • Turkey
  • Ducks
  • Pheasants
  • Wild birds

Fowl Pox: What You Need to Know

This disease characterizes itself through lesions on the unfeathered parts of the bird. Experts call this dry pox. When you have mucous membranes in the oral cavity, trachea or larynx, they call this wet pox.

Usually, fowl pox’s mortality rate sits between one to five percent. This depends on the severity of the disease, and you have cases where wet pox will have a much higher mortality rate.

This viral disease spreads slowly, and you have three types of fowl pox to be aware of. First, you have the fowl pox that impacts chickens and turkeys. Next, you have pigeon pox virus, and finally, you have the canarypox virus. With each viral disease, it only targets the specific species of birds. Chickens, for example, can’t catch the pigeon pox virus.

Wet and Dry Pox

avian pox in chickens

You have two forms of fowl pox: wet and dry. The dry form happens more often, and luckily, it poses fewer dangers to your chickens than wet pox, but either one can threaten your herd if you don’t handle it with care. Dry pox causes lesions to the legs, body and head in places that don’t have feathers.

While it begins as a small blister, it progresses to wart from where you will have many risks. The warts first appear as small yellow bumps, but they will continue to grow with time. As the pox lesion grows in size, it might change to a dark brown color. In particular, cases close to the eye can cause many problems.

Next, you have wet pox. Most chicken farmers consider this the deadlier form of the two. Wet pets will cause problems within the throat and the respiratory tract as white nodules. Eventually, it grows into a large mass that might even appear to be cheesy.

The danger comes from how as it grows, the chickens stop drinking water, eating food and altogether breathing. In severe cases, you can usually figure that it will result in the death of your prized birds.

You do have cases where chickens might have wet pox and dry pox at the same time. With either type of infection, it leads to a loss of appetite, and you get a lower production of eggs.

In most cases, birds that suffer from this will recover within two to four weeks, but you could see where it takes several weeks or even months for the bird to recover. Part of the reason for the slow recovery comes from how this viral infection spreads slowly throughout the pack.

Origin of Fowl Pox

Fowl Pox originates from mosquitoes that bite one of the flock. They carry this disease and introduce it to the bird. Normally, this happens because the mosquito previously fed on a chicken that had fowl pox, and this led to them being a latent carrier of the disease.f

After a mosquito feeds on a chicken with fowl pox, it will keep the disease in its salivary glands for up to eight weeks. When the mosquito bites another chicken, it spreads the illness to the uninfected chicken.

Once the chicken catches the illness, it can spread fowl pox to other members of the flock through scratches, mucous membranes and broken skin. This gets spread, and it can easily transmit to the other birds.

What Age Can Birds Catch This?

fowlpox

The age doesn’t matter much, and birds can catch this no matter what age they might be. Along with targeting no particular age, fowl pox can happen at any time of the year. This virus spreads around from skin dander, dried scabs and feathers.

Signs of the Disease’s Presence

  • Weight loss
  • Eye swelling
  • Scabs and wart-like lesions
  • Yellow canker lesions
  • Lower water consumption

Treatment Options

While you don’t have available treatments for this disease, luckily, it doesn’t have a high mortality rate. If you want to control this disease from causing an outbreak among your chickens, you might vaccinate them to it. You have several pox vaccines available for birds. Because this virus doesn’t spread quickly, you can typically still vaccinate your chickens even if 20 percent of the flock exhibits signs that they might have this disease.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Your birds will contract fowl pox, and they will never experience a second case of it again that’s the good. You might consider it like chicken pox with humans. Lower the risk through vaccinating them.

The bad is that fowl pox can and will return to the flock and infect those that may not have had it previously. This can be an ongoing problem that you hope you never have to go through again.

The ugly comes from how as your bird catches this disease, they will be vulnerable to secondary infections that can worsen the condition of your flock. They could get cutaneous or systemic infection. You can handle the dry form relatively easily, but if your flock contracts the wet form, it can be more difficult for them to manage.

How Do You Care for Birds with a Pox Infection?

fowl pox treatment

Once fowl pox infects your birds, you need to reinforce their immune systems. A stronger immune system can help them to fight the infection and to stay healthier for longer. You might give your birds vitamins to strengthen their immune system.

Some of the common vitamins given include Vitamin E, Vitamin D and Vitamin A. These oil vitamins will work best when you give it to them in liquid form.

You won’t pay much for vitamins, and it goes a long way to protecting the flock.

Can This Spread to Humans?

Luckily, fowl pox can’t spread to humans. The pox found in humans happens because of a different virus. Nevertheless, the virus could still be brought to your birds through the virus is on your equipment or your shoes.

You should always wash your hands thoroughly after you have handled your birds, and you need to sanitize your equipment as well. Usually, this virus will have an incubation period of between four to 14 days before it fully manifests.

Conditions Rife with This Virus

In particular, this virus will have an increased chance of happening when you have flocks enclosed to a small area. Either that or the large and unsanitary commercial settings have become an equally dangerous breeding ground for this type of virus.

In some cases, however, you can’t avoid it because of how your flock needs to stay inside for the winter. That becomes another risk, but you can’t do much about it. Any birds that might have fowl pox should be put on quarantine to prevent its spread to other birds. While this virus spreads slowly, you want to do what you can to contain the infection.

How Would a Veterinarian Handle It?

fowl pox in chickens

Veterinarians will usually prescribe antibiotics to deal with this illness. This helps to defend the bird from secondary illnesses as it recovers from the initial disease. No medication exists for the fowl pox virus because you technically can’t treat viruses, but the vet will put its primary attention on helping to keep it from harming the bird.

Prevent It

As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of the cure. To prevent it, you might take proactive measures to vaccinate your chickens for fowl pox. You want to do whatever you can to wage war against insect pests.

For example, you might spray the area to kill off the mosquitoes. In this way, you lower the risk that one of your chickens will get bitten with fowl pox. After it has happened, you can’t do much other than to wait it out.

Summary

In general, if you want to prevent fowl pox from ever taking hold of your flock, you need to check your chickens for it. Do what you can to keep it from happening. Treat any abnormalities that you notice as quickly as possible because this will keep your flock in the healthiest condition possible.

Luckily, this virus isn’t the worst one that your chickens can get. The most dangerous include Marek’s disease, Infectious Coryza and Coccidiosis. Still, you want to take active measures against fowl pox because it can still cause a lot of harm to your chickens.

Scaly Leg Mites in Chickens: Cause, Treatment and Prevention

scaly leg mites

Have you ever seen a chicken strutting with feet that are just gnarly and nasty looking? It’s hard to imagine anyone willing to just get near those chickens. They certainly look like they’ve got some disease.

Well, what you’re seeing is the result of the work of mites. They’re tiny but they’re ravenous and very contagious. And if you grow your own chickens, you’d want to know about how to deal with them. Just read on.

What are Scaly Leg Mites?

The Scaly Leg Mite, also known as Scaly Foot, is a super tiny arthropod, a separate family of segmented invertebrates that you know of where the spiders and scorpions are their distant relatives. They’re known in the scientific community as Knemidocoptes mutants.

It’s just that they’re very small. They’re so tiny that they can be just 0.5 millimeters small, hardly visible. Larger scaly leg mites can grow up to 25 millimeters.

They’re round in shape with four stubby legs close to their head-like extension that’s actually its retractable feeding appendage. They don’t seem to have eyes nor a brain. But just like many of its relatives, the Scaly Leg Mite is a parasite, engaged wholly in the activity of feeding.

The Scaly Leg Mite lays eggs, typically under the scales and tissues of bird legs such as the chicken. It’s the very place where these mites thrive. These eggs are laid by female mites and takes about two weeks to hatch where they start out as larvae. After a few numbers of molting, they become nymphs. And with a few more molting, they become adults.

These parasites have very short lifespans compared to their arachnid relatives. Their entire life cycle lasts from 10 to 14 days.

Their primary means of dispersal is through their contact and movement of their favored host, which typically include chickens, turkeys, passerines like the finches, canaries and sparrows and the psittacines such as the parrots, the parakeets and the budgerigars. They are known to also affect woodpeckers, ducks, geese and swans. Raptors like hawks get them too.

While they’re primarily found under the scales of bird’s legs, the comb and the wattle, some related specie of the Scaly Leg Mite even feeds on the feather follicles which cause balding. Their primary means of transmission is by prolonged direct contact when birds socialize.

This is particularly so when the parent birds inadvertently infect their young. The mite seems to also get into the surfaces and crevices of any bird’s habitation, prompting chicken growers to sanitize the coop. They are highly contagious.

Effects of Scaly Leg Mites

chicken scaly leg

Once the Scaly Leg Mites crawl in between the scales of a chicken’s legs, they burrow themselves deeper, eating their way through the tissues underneath while slowly tunneling their way around. The life cycle for the scaly leg mites begin. Soon they start laying their eggs.

As these mites burrow and leave behind secretions. This along with their feeding irritate the tissues where these mites live. These, in turn, cause excessive growth of scales. These scaly lesions look crusty and scabby with whitish growths wherever they are infected.

These lead to deformities on their legs and toes as well as on the chicken’s wattles and comb if they get infected too. These deformities on the chicken’s feet can lead to difficulty in walking, irritation, pain and discomfort. And if they are not treated and instead left on their own, the condition can even mean the loss of their toes and, in extreme cases, even death as an indirect result.

These affected parts become sensitive and peeling the crusty white growths can injure the chicken.

These growths themselves are not contagious. It’s the mites that are. Thankfully, these are not the specie of mites that pass on to humans. It’s perfectly alright to touch or handle them as you work on treating your birds.

There’s a way these scabs and mites can be treated in a way that doesn’t have to endanger or irritate your birds. These solutions have been applied by other chicken growers and have seen their effectiveness.

I’ll let you know which ones are often used and which ones you might want to stay away for the safety and health of your chickens. It will certainly help if you carry out the treatment with a companion to assist you – one to hold on the chicken and the other to apply the treatment.

Here’s what you can do to treat them effectively without causing any pain on your chickens.

How Do You Treat Scaly Leg Mites?

scaly leg mites in chickens

There are products available you can buy that specifically treat Scaly Leg Mites on chicken legs and feet. They’re often in handheld spray bottles that make them easier to apply with one hand while you hold on the chicken with the other.

It’s still better if you’ve got an assistant though. These contain active ingredients that kill the mites where they are underneath the leg scales of chickens and soothe their injury. They may have oil that can prevent future scaly leg mite infection.

You can buy these online from $10 to about $32 a bottle from online companies that specially sell agricultural products to hardware stores.

If you’re looking for cheaper alternatives using effective and proven DIY mixes, here are some things you can do.

Treatment 1: Warm Water – Drying – Petroleum Jelly

The most popular DIY treatment applied to treat Scaly Leg Mites on chickens is the use of petroleum jelly. A few initially soak the chicken’s legs and feet in comfortable warm water with soap solution before they dry them with a towel and apply the petroleum jelly.

The idea of soaking the chicken feet in the water is to take out some of the gnarly growths hanging on the chicken legs and feet. Warm water softens them while the soap solution disinfects them. Taking out some of these growths help open up more surface area for the application of petroleum jelly.

You may use gloves if you want to but it is perfectly safe to use your bare hands and fingers to do the petroleum jelly application. The idea is of applying the petroleum jelly is to basically suffocate the mites that are burrowed under the scales.

Massaging the petroleum jelly in between the scales and the cracks between the growths will help reach into these hidden mites. Smothered in the petroleum jelly, they won’t be able to breathe, leading to suffocation and death. They are easily sloughed off after that.

Don’t pull off these growths on your own. Some of these are still attached to tissues underneath the growths. Pulling these out can injure your bird.

The application is often done twice to three times a week for two weeks covering the lifespan of a mite. There are farmers who apply this daily.

Treatment 2: Sulfur and Petroleum Jelly Mixture

scaly leg mite

You can also apply an alternative treatment, mixing 2 tablespoons of sulfur powder and half a cup of petroleum jelly.

Treatment 3: Ivermectin

For serious cases of Scaly Leg Mite, a prescribed medication used specifically to treat parasitic infestations is given orally or by injection. This is normally prescribed by a veterinarian.

Dosage of 0.2 milligrams per kilogram per bird is the guiding amount given once every two weeks. This is a strong medication. It is recommended that you’d use this as a last resort if you’d want your chickens free of any medication from its body and eggs.

Treatment 4: Gasoline – A&D Ointment

Here’s a treatment recommended by Dr. Michael Darre, Ph.D., a Poultry Extension Specialist from the University of Connecticut.

The treatment starts with dipping the legs into the gasoline and letting it air dry on the first day. Once dry, you slather the affected legs and feet with the A&D ointment helping them to heal. The gasoline kills off the mites.

The next day, you just apply the A&D ointment without the gasoline.

On the third day, you do the gasoline dip, drying and A&D application again.

Cleaning Out Your Coop

It’s not enough to treat the chicken legs and feet of the Scaly Leg Mites. These parasites do come back with a vengeance. It’s smart to treat the coop where they sleep and when possible, their run area. You should be able to treat the surrounding area and the coop with purposely made disinfectant you can purchase online and the store.

Another thing you can do to keep the mites affecting your flock at a minimum is keeping the area dry. Covering the grounds with hardwood wood chips will keep their feet and legs dry while sanitizing the area regularly with diatomaceous earth.

Doing routine coop disinfection will help keep the mites off of your birds or at least minimize their effects.

Summary

Scaly Leg Mites are more often a nuisance but its a problem that’s worth the effort if you’d want your chickens living happily in your coop. You’ll be rewarded with plump hens with lots of eggs often. Remember to keep on eye on their legs and feet. And if you see one showing signs of these mites, it’s time to treat everyone in your flock and disinfect their coop.

Chicken Worms 101 – Beginner’s Guide

chickens worms

In this riveting article, we’re going to dissect the curious subject of worming chickens. We’ll go over the most fascinating aspects of this topic, answering the top questions that novice farmers have about keeping chickens healthy and parasite free.

What You’ll Learn From This Article

  • We’ll discuss the top treatments and alternative methods. We’ll even go into detail about the history of worming and other interesting topics.
  • Since I’ve been volunteering to assist on my brother’s farm for the past few decades, we’ve had the opportunity to troubleshoot nearly every problem that a farm animal can have. We’ve dealt with all sorts of issues with chickens, hens, and roosters.
  • This article is my way of sharing the information that we’ve gathered through hard work. If you need help with a parasite that’s giving your chickens problems, you’ve come to the right place.

What Will Happen If You Don’t Take Care of Your Chickens

worming chickens

In the worst case scenario, the worms could infect the chicken to the point where the animal is unable to process foods efficiently. The animal could be in pain, and the worms could be severe enough that the animal dies from being loaded with parasites. However, parasitic worms usually feed in a way that prevents mortality.

If the chicken is healthy, you won’t notice any abnormal behavior. However, the worms will spread to other chickens. Other animals could pick up the parasite because it is easily transferred through stool.

When you harvest eggs from a chicken that is loaded with worms, you will actually notice the worms inside of their eggs. This could cause sickness for the people that eat the eggs.

Fortunately, there are several ways to manage parasitic worms in chickens, so there’s no reason to panic. As long as you take immediate action, there should be no dire consequences.

What Are Worms?

According to an astounding article from a backyard chicken farmer, there are five types of worms that every chicken farmer should be concerned about preventing. Veterinarians have claimed that worms are a normal occurrence when raising chickens, so you shouldn’t feel bad or blame yourself for this problem.

Even though there are several other types of worms that could get into your chicken coop, there are really only five types that you’ll need to take seriously.

The following section goes over the worms that matter; these worms could cause disease if they’re left unattended. Since some worms live in the intestine, they are able to absorb nutrients that the chicken needs to survive.

Five Major Types of Worms

worms in chicken
  • Cecal Worms: Cecal worms live in the bowels of the chicken. In fact, our sources indicate that they take root in the part of the intestine that creates the stinkiest chicken feces. Oddly enough, experts claim that cecal worms don’t pose any threat to the lives of their hosts. They also pose no threat to humans. However, they’ll deplete nutrients from the host, so there’s a worthy incentive to get rid of these parasites.
  • Capillary Worms: These worms are able to live in various areas of a chicken’s body, including the intestines. Capillary worms are one of the smallest worms on this list. They’re as thin as a hair, and you won’t be able to see capillary worms in stool.
  • Tapeworms: One of the most well-known worm parasites is the tapeworm because it occurs in household pets, and the tapeworm is even known to be a problem for malnourished people. Although, they cannot be given to humans by an infected chicken. Tapeworms are difficult to treat, and any infected chicken should be isolated for the entire treatment process. In order to treat the tapeworm, you’ll likely need to incorporate a drug from your veterinarian. Although, you could try a natural treatment, such as Diatomaceous Earth.
  • Round Worms: Although these worms could cause death by blocking digestion, round worms are one of the most common problems that chicken farmers have to deal with. In the section below, we’ve prepared some steps to help take care of worms. If problems persist, contact a professional. These worms will be identifiable by looking at the stool produced by the chicken.
  • Gape Worms: Although these parasites are unsightly, it is unlikely that they’ll become transmitted to any human on the farm. If you notice your chicken has trouble swallowing, they might have a gapeworm. The chicken will usually keep its mouth open, or it might have trouble breathing. These worms don’t require a microscope, but you’ll need to treat the infected chicken in an isolated environment for a period of roughly three weeks.

Don’t Use These Olden Methods to Worm Chickens

worms in chicken poop

From the blog of a mother and farmer who likes to share interesting facts, you’ll never believe what farmers used to do to get rid of parasites. Before treatment options were so readily available, farmers would add a little lye into the food that went to their livestock.

Lye is not recommended by veterinarians because it could cause serious health issues for an animal. In fact, this poison could be carried by the animal, and microscopic doses could matriculate into the foods that are produced in a process called biological magnification.

While it may be interesting to find out what farmers used to do, please do not rely upon this method. Remember that you’re taking time to research thoughtful, proven methods to get rid of parasites that are harming your chickens. Let’s take a look at some of the top treatment options for getting rid of worms in chickens.

What to Do When You Find Worms

  • Step 1: Try using a few natural methods to get rid of the parasites, but don’t be afraid to use the preferred gel treatment option for worming chickens. One natural method is to feed them apple cider vinegar. This wholesome ingredient will give your chickens stronger immune systems, so their bodies will be able to fight the parasites. Another natural product to try is garlic. Adding garlic to your chickens’ feed will usually eliminate the parasite problems, but some farmers have complained about a garlic-heavy diet causing sour eggs. If all else fails, you’ll need to treat your worm problem with medical gel. A serious load of parasites could be fatal for any chicken, and the problem will spread to other farm animals. Workout gel is easy to use, and some farmers use it on a regular basis to prevent parasite infestations from occurring. Simply add the gel into the chickens’ water to treat them for a variety of parasites.
  • Step 2: Add Diatomaceous Earth into the chickens’ feed to get rid of all parasites. If you don’t do something to avoid spreading worms, your entire flock could become compromised.
  • Step 3: After you’ve taken the above precautions, it’s important to avoid further infestation by changing out the bedding that is used in your chicken coop. The senior editor of this chicken coop blog reminds readers to avoid muddy conditions. After it rains, you should be concerned about moving your chickens to a dryer place. You might need a second run to accomplish this. However, leaving your chickens in a muddy space is asking for problems with worms.

Keeping Chickens Healthy

signs of worms in chickens

If your flock becomes infected with parasites, you will find yourself battling to get rid of the worms that you’ve found in their stool. This is a difficult process, for it can be unsettling to find worms in the stool of your beloved chickens. Even if you don’t see worms in their droppings, it’s possible that the parasites are too small for you to see.

It’s vital that you make every effort to keep your birds safe from natural threats to their physical well-being. If you suspect that your birds have picked up worms, you don’t have to worry. You’re not an irresponsible animal owner, but you should take steps to remedy the situation. If you let it go unnoticed, it’s possible that the worms will become a big deal.

When you take pride in your coop, you’ll feel better about raising wild animals. It’s tough to deal with parasites, but it’s a normal part of raising chickens.

Quick Summary

Incorporate natural ways of dealing with parasite prevention. Methods listed above will help you control any parasite situation before it gets away from you. It’s a good idea to take regular precautions by worming chickens with one of the popular methods mentioned in this article.

Molting Chickens: What Is It and How to Fix It

chicken molting

Chickens are the most domesticated bird in the world. There are more than sixty billion chickens, making them the most successful birds on the planet. While they have been very successful procreators, they too have vulnerable moments. In this article, we will be discussing their most vulnerable state, the molting chicken.

Molting Chickens and What that Looks Like

When the days start to get shorter and the season starts to cool down that is when you start to see the first signs of molting in your chickens. Molting season usually begins late summer and early fall. The shortening of the days is the biggest trigger for the molting process.

No matter the weather, after a year in age, chickens will molt once a year. Young spring chicks may molt several times before fall and thus skipping the normal molting season to continue their molting process the next year.

One of the first things you may begin to notice is a shorter supply of eggs. Chickens feathers are made of 85% protein. Chickens may stop laying eggs when molting to conserve protein and other vital nutrients needed in the production of feathers. Feathers are made mostly of keratin. The following list describes briefly the parts of the body you may find feathers.

  • The neck
  • The midsection
  • The wings
  • The legs
  • The tail

Do not panic. This is a natural process that happens every year. If you rely on eggs laid by your chickens, you may freeze excess supply before molting season to ensure there is not a shortage of eggs.

The more you know about molting chickens, the better prepared you will be to aid your chickens in this process. Chickens start to molt in a sequence. Beginning with the head, they lose their feathers slowly.

The shedding process then moves down from the back to the breast then to the thighs, ending with their delicate tail feathers. In the same sequence, they lose their feathers do new feathers emerge. These are called pin feathers. Pin feathers can bleed and are often painful for the bird. It is important to handle your molting chickens with care because of this.

While the sequence of shedding remains the same, molting chickens do differ in time. Most of the feathers will be shed and regrown, however, not all feathers are lost in this process. Some chickens are more efficient and only require 3-4 weeks.

Others require more time. This may depend on the amount of feathers they will be shedding. It is important to note that both hens and roosters molt. Chickens losing more feathers may require up to 13-16 weeks for molting.

Feather Anatomy

What is molting without feathers? In this passage, we will briefly discuss the anatomy of feathers so you may get an idea for how they work and why they molt. An adult hen needs about 14-17 hours of sunlight to produce an egg, thus granting the best time to molt when the days become shorter. While an opportunist, the shedding of feathers is essential to maintaining a good quality of health.

Chickens have four types of feathers each with a unique purpose. Below I have included a list of each feather type their benefit.

  • Webbed Feathers: These are the larger feather types. They help insulate rain and wind and are protective.
  • Plumules: These are smaller feathers that grow closer to the body and provide warmth.
  • Bristle Feathers: These are even smaller feathers located in the eyes, beak, and ears. These feathers help keep away pests.
  • Filoplumes: These are ever finer feathers, hairlike and soft. These feathers may have sensory or decorative features.

Once a feather is shed, the pin feathers come in. These pin feathers a covered in a protein sheath. The protein sheath is then removed in a process called preening.

While each feather may differ in size, texture, color and other variants, the anatomy stays the same. The base of a feather, the part mostly in contact with skin, is called a quill. You may know the quill from old usages of it for writing.

Next is the central shaft or rachis. This is usually curved and forms a vane. Following that is the inner vane and the outer vane. An up-curved edge is found at the bottom and a down-curved edge is found at the top of a feather leading to the feather tip. A barb, barbule, hook and catch create the most recognizable features of the feather.

How to Assist Molting Chickens

molting chickens

In the molting state, chickens are very fragile. They require more protein and are weakened by painful pin feathers pushing their way to the surface. This resembles porcupine quills and may look rather patchy. There are many ways that you can help your chickens out during this vulnerable time.

It is important to monitor your chickens to make sure they are not actually suffering from illness at this time. While monitoring your chickens, you may also want to consider intervening in their daily protein take and feed supply. With the proper nutrients and a quality diet, molting chickens can be managed safely and efficiently.

Most chicken farmers suggest at least a 16% diet of protein for chickens throughout the year. Since more protein is required during the molting process, it is suggested to increase this diet to 20-22%. A high-quality diet is required during this time.

Some recommend the free choice method of feeding as opposed to rationing when chickens are molting. While rationing feed may be economical most times of the year, free access allows the chickens to have the best chance at getting the nutrients they need for their molt.

There are other ways to provide enough protein for your molting chickens than their feed alone. Biotin is an essential vitamin for healthy bones and feather growth. You can use biotin powders by sprinkling into their feed. You may also add biotin or other supplements into their water supply. It is very important to have an abundant source of water during this time.

You may also consider other methods of protein for molting chickens. These can be offered regularly or in the form of treats. Below is a list of high protein snacks to consider for molting care.

  • mealworms: 53%-30% protein
  • cat food: 26%-30% protein
  • sunflower seeds: 26% protein
  • oats: 10%-17% protein

Alternative Tips to Help Molting Chickens

when do chickens molt

As suggested above, it is important to reiterate how fragile a chicken maybe when molting. Now that we have a good idea of how the molting process works and what nutrients may be required, we can see some alternative care tips to ensure a most successful molt.

Stress may be a huge factor in molting recovery. As we have learned molting can be a rather stressful and draining process. One way you may reduce the stress in a chicken’s environment is by not introducing new, un aquatinted birds. Chickens are highly social animals.

Because of this, they are great for domestication. While very social, each new chicken may induce stress on the flock and may disorient their highly established pecking order. It is a good idea to understand the social nuances of your animals.

Another great tip is to handle with care. As much as possible avoid handling molting chickens. As discussed earlier, the porcupine-like pin feathers are quite painful. They are supplied with blood when coming in. They often bleed and are very sensitive to touch.

It is great to monitor your birds during this time, but avoid touching them. Handle only when necessary and with great care. Luckily it is easy to see the most sensitive areas so you may avoid them.

If a patch is bald, it may mean the pin feathers are coming in and are just below the surface. Each bird may vary with the time it takes to grow new feathers, but you will be able to see where they will be coming in.

Since water is very important for molting chickens, you may want to consider adding a variety of water drinkers to your coup. This, accompanied by a free choice method of feeding, may allow your chickens to choose their appropriate nutrients.

For example, adding Apple Cider Vinegar to one drinker and supplements to another drinker adds variety and improves health. You can add other supplements to each drinker in order to create variety and choice during the molt.

Summary

In summary, a little bit of patience can go a long way. Be kind to your molting chickens. These are very social creatures. Offering them support both environmentally and nutritiously can go a long way in the renewal process. Remember that this is a natural cycle. With your support, your chickens will be back producing eggs in no time!

Why Do Roosters Crow?

why do roosters crow

Crowing is a behavior that is inseparably tied to roosters. Whether depicted in a cartoon, a book, or a movie with a rural setting, if you see a rooster it almost certainly about to crow. However, rarely do we take the time to ask why roosters behave this way.

While we like to think of roosters as nature’s unwanted alarm clocks, the psychology and motivation behind their crowing behavior are quite complex. There is not a single impetus driving a rooster to crow. Let’s take a look at the myriad of reasons that cause a rooster to sing their distinctive song.

What are the three primary reasons why a rooster crows?

  • Finding a Mate
  • Threatening Predators
  • Announcing Their Territory
  • For Fun

Let’s take a look at each of these fascinating behaviors in more detail.

To Attract a Mate

why do roosters crow in the morning

As with a vast majority of seemingly-strange animal behavior, one of the primary motivations for roosters to crow is to attract a mate. While our human ears struggle to detect and nuances between calls, scientists have analyzed the crows of distinct roosters and found that each rooster has a slightly different crow.

Thus, many researchers have concluded that the slight changes between each rooster are used as a method of impressing potential mates and out-gunning competing roosters.

The number of changes is extensive. Many roosters like to introduce a warbling effect into the calls as a sign of complexity and health. Further, the length of the song itself will vary between animals. While a rooster’s crow may seem arbitrary to many listeners, they are playing a distinct and repeatable song.

Depending on the rooster, this repetition may occur as often as every two minutes, or as infrequently as every ten. While the studies have no been wholly conclusive, it appears that hens tend to me more quickly attracted to roosters that exhibit longer and more complex songs.

Beyond the complexity of the call, there is also a much simpler variable: volume. One of the key differences in the crows of different roosters is how long they can become. While not always true, a larger rooster can typically produce a higher maximum volume compared to a smaller specimen. Thus, exhibiting a higher volume is a means by which roosters can brag about their size, strength, and health.

This effect is amplified when multiple roosters are within the hearing range of each other. When placed in the vicinity of another rooster, roosters tend to increase the volume of their crowing. This often results in a kind of competition between the males, resulting in a back-and-forth battle with increasing volume each round.

In extreme instances, agitated roosters have been known to damage their lungs or vocal cords in an attempt to out-shine another rooster. They are liable to become so engrossed in outperforming the other, and winning the affection of a mate, that they forget any self-preservation instincts and overwork themselves. While they typically recover from these episodes, the damage can sometimes be permanent.

The issue of volume has two components. First, if asked to choose between two roosters, a hen is likely to choose the larger and more aggressive male. Thus, showing an ability to out-crow their competition is an advantage to winning a mate. However, the issue can be much simpler.

Chickens are fairly simplistic animals who are often distinctly indiscriminate in their mate selection. Combined with their poor hearing, a hen will often choose the first viable mate she encounters. Therefore, sometimes the matter of crowing loudly comes down to being heard first, rather than impressing anyone.

As Threatening Behavior

why roosters crow

Despite their flashy looks and imposing talons, roosters are surprisingly vulnerable creatures. While they can technically fly, their ability to fly long distances or with any agility is extremely limited. Further, they have limited natural defense mechanisms.

Though they do have a rudimentary ability to fight with other animals by using the talons or beaks, they are simply no match for many predators. Thus, if they are poised with being attacked by a pigeon or other small animal, a rooster will be able to respond with force. However, any larger animals require the rooster to become more creative.

When confronted with a predator, roosters use a shock-and-awe approach to scaring away the other animal. This is a simple learned response based upon their limited options. If being attacked, a rooster will try to make itself look and sound as large as possible. This includes inflating its chest, raising its wings, and crowing as loudly as possible.

This call is often distinct from the mating call discussed above. A warning or threatening crow will be higher-pitched, more repetitive, and louder. Unlike a mating call, the goal is not to be artistic or to display their nuanced creativity. When under attack, the rooster’s goal is simple: make as much noise as possible.

You can often hear the differences yourself. While a typical mating call will have a great amount of tone variation and melodic variation, a threatening call is more simplistic. Generally, a rooster trying to use intimidation will alternate back and forth between one or two tones, similar to a police siren. When it comes to warding off an attack, the volume is the only goal.

Announcing Their Territory

why does a rooster crow

Unlike hens, which are primarily communal and docile animals, roosters are fiercely territorial. Thus, marking their territory is one of the primary reasons why a rooster may crow. In any given community, there will be much fewer roosters than hens. Hens often outnumber their male equivalents by over a hundred to one.

Therefore, roosters are allowed to rule a fairly large range of territory. A typical rooster will lay claim to an area of roughly an acre. It considers this range to be its property and will become disturbed if its land is intruded on by another male bird.

Crowing for territorial reasons takes on two forms. A rooster will often seek to remind other birds in the area that a certain portion of land is its territory. This is generally the function of the “alarm clock” morning crowing that roosters are so well known for. When crowing for this reason, a rooster will attempt to find the highest perch possible.

Normally, this will be a tree or fence post. Then, the rooster will project out into its territory. This call normally resembles its mating song, but with even more embellishments added. In fact, territorial marking will often have the secondary effect of attracting a mate.

However, roosters will also crow to protect their territory. If another rooster invades the area that a rooster considers its own, then an average rooster will not be shy about letting the intruder know it is not welcome. The offended rooster will approach the intruder aggressively with its wings flapping and beak open.

Then, the rooster will let out a loud screeching noise. Unlike a mating call or predator defense, this is a much higher-pitched tone, sounding almost like a smoke alarm. A rooster can only maintain this tone for a few seconds before exhausting its voice. Thus, if a rooster becomes incapacitated in this confrontation, the other rooster will often take a claim to the new territory.

For the Fun of It

why do rooster crow

The final reason that roosters crow is also the most wholesome. They simply seem to enjoy it. Scientists observing roosters in the wild noticed that they often appear to crow without any stimulation or apparent reason. A rooster in isolation will crow regardless of light conditions, other birds, or barometric pressure. Thus, the most plausible explanation is that roosters will often crow simply for fun.

Yet again, the style of their song changes when they are crowing for mere recreation. Roosters appear to use this time as a chance to experiment. Thus, a “play” song will rarely be the same twice. Rather, they will vary their tone and melody in an attempt to perfect their mating or aggression calls.

Their behavior during these periods is fascinating. When practicing a happy song, a rooster can often be seen dancing or hopping playfully. However, when practicing a predator or territorial call, they will emulate the aggressive stance as if there was an actual threat. Thus, it appears that roosters are capable of rudimentary role-play that they use to practice their crows.

Finally, roosters will often crow without meaning to. Whenever a rooster is startled, they will commonly let out an involuntary “gasp” noise in the form of a crowing song. Roosters have even been observed to crow while sleeping, similar to a person speaking in their sleep.

Conclusion

So, why do roosters crow? Roosters do not crow just to signal the rising sun. Rather, a roosters crow is an important adaptation that assists it with almost every aspect of their lives.

Thus as a person’s tone of voice may change depending on the circumstance, so too will a roosters song change for varying purposes. So next time you hear a lone rooster crow, spend some time thinking about what it might be trying to say.

Chicken Anatomy: Everything You Need To Know

chicken anatomy

When working with chickens it is important to understand them. The first step to working with chickens is knowing their anatomy. The word anatomy is derived from a Greek word that means “to cut up.” Anatomy is the structure of animals and their functions. It is amazing to see the comparable things found in both chicken and human anatomy. There are certain aspects of chicken anatomy to point out.

  • Skin and feathers
  • Bones, wings, and legs
  • Reproductive system
  • Digestive system
  • Respiratory system

Skin and Feathers

Four different terms describe the location of anatomy parts on a chicken. The first term is dorsal. Dorsal is the section of a chicken that pertains to the uppers surface area. The ventral section of a chicken is the lower part of a chicken including the abdominal surface.

The cranial section pertains to the head of a chicken. The last term used is the caudal, also known as the posterior. The caudal applies to the rear section of the chicken including the tail. The skin and feathers of a chicken can be found in all four sections of its body.

Many people don’t understand that the feathers of a bird have different functions. Although they can seem like just a covering on their skin, they are vital to keeping a bird healthy.

The first thing to point out about a bird’s feathers is obvious. A bird’s feathers are essential for them to fly. This may not evident in all types of birds. There are some birds such as chickens who may only fly short distances.

hen anatomy

Feathers are comparable to mammals’ fur. The feathers of a bird help to keep them warm when the weather begins to get chilly. They also help to shelter the bird from mother nature. Molting occurs in chickens after they are a year old. This is when a bird sheds feathers and grows new ones.

This will happen yearly and take from 8 to 12 weeks. Plumage pertains to the outside feathers on a chicken. Due to a chicken not having any sweat glands, the plumage helps to cool a chicken down in heat as well.

Another important part of a chicken that helps with protection is their skin. The skin is also a form of insulation for the bird and monitors different sensory functions of the bird. There are many different kinds of skin found on a chicken.

Feathered skin is the skin that gives the feathers direction to grow. Scaled skin is what is on the feet and legs. The footpad is another type of skin at the base of the foot for protection. Many people do not know that the beak and toenails of a bird are also skin.

They’re made from hardened keratin. The chicken uses its beak to eat and drink. The last type of skin is the wattles and comb. These are parts of a bird that begin to grow when a bird hits maturity. The wattle of a chicken is the red growth found underneath its beak.

The comb of a chicken is the red section of the skin found on the top of the chicken’s head. The comb and wattle work together. The blood circulation between these two parts of a chicken is what helps to regulate its temperature. The comb of a chicken comes in many different sizes.

A larger comb means that there is more testosterone present within the bird. Large combs usually point to the chicken being a male. Extra skin also includes its second sexual appendages created from sex hormones within the animal.

Bones, Wings, and Legs

anatomy of a chicken

The first thing people think of about a bird is their wings.

The bones of a chicken have a combination of three substances. This includes collagen, phosphorus, and calcium. Like a human’s bones, a chicken’s bones they give the chicken protection and support their bodies.

A chicken’s bones should have a large amount of all three substances. In the case of a chicken having low calcium, eggs produced could have soft eggshells. Sometimes the deficiency can lead to no eggshell produced at all. It is also possible that low calcium will result in the inability to produce eggs.

There are two different types of bones within a chicken’s body. The pneumatic bones connect to the respiratory system. These bones are hollow. Examples of pneumatic bones are collar bones, arm bones, the skull, and the pelvis. The other type of bones within a skeletal system is the medullary bones.

These bones contain bone marrow and store calcium. Examples of medullary bones are the ribs, shoulder blades, and legs. The chicken has flexible bones within its backbone and neck. There are a total of 39 bones within a chicken’s spine. This helps protect the skull and gives a chicken the ability to turn their heads 180 degrees.

The largest bone within the bird’s body is the sternum. This bone covers half of a bird’s body. The wings of a bird attached to the sternum of the bird. Chickens were able to fly better in the past, but due to humans breeding them, this ability has decreased.

In the past, the muscles that attached the wings and the sternum were very strong. As breeding continued, they got weaker and weaker.

Reproductive System

anatomy of a rooster

Everyone knows that chickens lay eggs, chicken has a reproductive system like all birds. Within this shell, the chick has all the nutrition they need to survive until it is time to hatch. This makes it easy for a mother to leave the nest to find food. A female chicken lays one egg at a time. It’s understood that there is a high chance that some may not survive to hatch.

When they hatch chickens are fully developed. This means that hatchlings can stand and even walk when they hatch. This helps the mother from having to care for them so much. A hen has only one functional ovary.

Although a female chicken lays the egg it is the rooster who needs to fertilize it for the chick to form. A rooster is born with two functioning testes. These both produce sperm daily so that he can fertilize many eggs a day.

When a hen and rooster mate his sperm sits within the hen’s oviduct. The hen can either decide to keep the sperm or expel it. The sperm is viable within the hen’s oviduct for an estimate of 30 days. When the hen lays an egg it’s fertilized.

Digestive System

Like a human, a chicken has a digestive system. However, that is where the comparison ends. The first thing to point out is the fact that chickens do not have any teeth. Instead, they have a beak that they use to break their food into smaller particles.

Once a chicken swallows’ food it travels to the crop. The crop is a storage compartment that holds the food at bay until it is time for the food to travel to the chicken gizzard. The crop comes in handy because many birds ingest a lot of food at once so that they can use it in times of danger.

Like a human, a chicken has a stomach. It is here where digestion takes place. The stomach breaks down the food when enzymes mix with food to soften it in its course to the gizzard.

Once the food becomes a thick-like food substance it travels through the intestines. Proteins and more enzymes push the substance through the digestive system. The proteins and enzymes come from the liver, pancreas, and stomach. The substance continues until it goes through the ceca. Afterward, it goes through tubes where the water’s absorbed and it becomes waste.

Respiratory System

what does a chicken look like

The respiratory system is different from mammals. A mammal has a diaphragm which is used to breathe by inflating and deflating the lungs. A chicken as nine different air sacs. These sacks are found in the chicken’s neck.

The air sacs inflate the lungs and move air in and out of the chicken’s body. The chicken has things called nares. Nares are nostrils found in its beak. Their job is to give air access to move within the trachea and back out of its body.

The respiratory system has two different phases when they breathe. The first phase is inhalation. As a human, this is when the chicken breathes the air in. However, in chickens, the air goes through the posterior air sacs first.

While this process occurs the air from the previous inhalation fills the anterior air sacs. The second phase is called the exhalation. This is when the air is released from the posterior air sacs and into the lungs. The air from the anterior sacs is then released out of the body through the trachea.

Summary

The anatomy of a chicken is very complex. It has some functions and parts that are comparable to a human’s anatomy. There are also many differences between chicken and human anatomy. If a person plans on being around chickens, it is important to understand their anatomy.

How Long Do chickens Live: Factors That Impact Lifespan

how long do chickens live

Chickens are peculiar creatures that are loved by many. Whether you are thinking about owning chickens or are just curious about them, you may have a few questions. One of your top questions may be, “How long does a chicken live?”. While the answer may seem cut and dry, that is not actually the case. We will dive into the chicken lifespan and some major things that can impact that lifespan.

History of a Chicken’s Life Expectancy

Chickens were not originally bred to be pets. Chickens, specifically hens, were bred so that they could help feed a family or provide a family with a source of income. These chickens were bred from wild birds.

The breeder of the wild birds would choose which birds would produce the most favorable offspring. This process would then continue. The goal was to breed out the wild behaviors of the birds and produce a bird that produced a quality food source.

What Factors Affect Life Expectancy?

chicken lifespan

Today, a backyard chicken can live anywhere from three to ten years. The chicken lifespan can vary depending on a variety of different factors. These factors can be related to breed or may be related to the level of care that the chicken receives. The top factors that affect the chicken lifespan are listed below.

Disease

One of the greatest factors influencing the chicken lifespan is disease. Flocks of chickens may succumb to parasites, including mites, lice, and worms. These parasites can cause a chicken to become uncomfortable and even fall ill. This could even lead to the death of a chicken.

While there are some diseases that cannot be prevented, advanced technology has led to many preventative options for chicken owners. These preventative measures may include frequent cleanings or inspections of the flock.

You may also perform regular preventative maintenance to individual chickens. In theory, the more closely your flock is watched, the healthier they will be.

How They Are Housed

How you plan on sheltering your chickens will make a difference in their lifespan. If they have nowhere to go or are housed with other animals, many things could happen to your chickens. This includes becoming too cold and freezing to death or being crushed by other animals.

Without proper shelter, your chickens may also be exposed to the elements or to predators, hindering the chicken lifespan. However, not every housing arrangement is an optimal one. Chickens that are kept on commercial farms generally suffer more from respiratory illness and have a limited quality of life.

It is typically recommended that chicken owners find a suitable coop to help house their flock. This will provide them adequate shelter from predators and allow them access to the outdoors at their leisure for them to breathe fresh air.

Their Environment

What environment your chicken is living will affect how long they live. You could utilize a quality coop for your chickens, but if the environment containing that coop or the surrounding environment is negative then this will negatively impact your chickens.

For example, you do not want to place a chicken coop in a horse barn or a warehouse. Instead, you want to place the coop somewhere where the chicken has access to clean and fresh air that circulates. The area should also be relatively dry and be able to keep the chicken warm.

A chicken kept in dirty and unkept conditions is more susceptible to illness or medical issues. A healthy and clean environment will help the chicken lifespan last longer.

Tips for a Healthy and Happy Chicken Coop

lifespan of a chicken

Having a great chicken coop for your chickens can sound like a daunting task. However, it does not have to be challenging. With these helpful tips, you will be sure to have a healthy and happy chicken coop for years to come for your chickens to enjoy.

  • When deciding on bulbs, always choose red. This is because red bulbs will not show any bloody spots on a chicken, preventing pecks from other chickens.
  • When there are chicks present, block off any corners. This will help to prevent suffocation.
  • Waterers need to be kept shallow and clean to avoid chicks drowning.

What They Eat

Chickens have a much better diet than they did fifty to a hundred years ago. Chickens in those times lived on whatever morsels they could scrounge up, which typically was not much. Nowadays, chicken feed is manufactured. This provides chicken owners with an easy way to supply their chickens with the nutrition that they need.

Chicken food can also be found for every stage of a chicken lifespan. However, overfeeding your chicken can also cause an issue. Overweight chickens can not only cause the chicken some discomfort but can also prove to be life-threatening.

Weight issues can lead to leg problems and even respiratory issues. You will want to make sure that you are feeding your chickens the proper amount and watching their treat intake as well.

Veterinary Care

Prior to the 20th century, the welfare of the chicken was not often considered. These backyard animals were looked at as disposable and their health was not taken into account. Nowadays, advancements in poultry medicine and recognition of certain health issues have made the quality of life of the chicken better.

The study of issues related to chickens is ongoing, providing chicken owners with preventative measures to take proper care of their flock. If your hen is experiencing a serious health issue, you will want to bring your chicken to the vet that sees barnyard patients.

If you are planning on owning chickens, it is important to read up on issues that commonly affect them. This way, you will be able to identify a serious issue if it arises. This will also allow you the ability to provide first-aid care for your flock. Your flock may need tended to, but do not need to visit the vet.

They may need to be administered medication, have their feet cared for, or have a wound taken care of. Minor issues can be addressed at home, while serious issues will need to be addressed by a vet.

How Long do Chickens Lay Eggs?

how long do chickens live for

When a chicken starts laying eggs can varying, depending on several factors. However, chickens generally start laying eggs around the time they are 18 weeks old. Shorter windows of daylight may cause a chicken to not lay as many eggs. This is especially true when it is the winter months, as the days are usually colder and darker.

Chickens that are healthy will usually lay eggs for around two to three years. Egg laying will begin to slow down after this time frame and then taper off. During this period of less egg laying, the eggs may be larger. If you are wanting something more specific, you can read our article: How often do chicken laying eggs.

What to Do When Chickens Stop Laying Eggs

Once a chicken has stopped laying eggs, there are a few different options you have. Even though a chicken has stopped laying eggs, you may still use her to contribute in other ways to your flock or to keep around as a companion chicken.

A chicken that is older will still be a great bug catcher and could help control the weeds in your garden. Older chickens will also help to keep eggs warm or raise chicks, providing the flock with more experience than the younger hens may have.

You may also decide that once a hen has stopped producing eggs that it will be time to use the chicken for meat. While older chickens generally have tougher meat, the meat will still be useful for stew or other dishes. However, if it is the winter time, you may choose to wait. Generally in the spring, hens will begin laying once again.

3 Popular Breeds and Their Life Expectancy

When deciding on what chickens to have in your flock, you may have considered one of these three breeds. Listed below are three of the most popular breeds and their chicken lifespan.

Rhode Island Red

chicken life spans

Rhode Island Red are some of the most popular chickens and you have most likely seen them before. This type of chicken can live around 8 years. They are most common for beginners or those who wish to keep chickens for a long time. Read more about Rhode Island Red.

Golden Comets

how long does a chicken live

Golden Comets are most well-known for how many eggs that they produce. They typically produce an egg a day. However, these chickens are more prone to developing reproductive issues. They can live up to five years old. Read more about Golden Comet.

Easter Egger

chickens life span

Easter Egger are a hybrid type of hen and are sought after due to their eggs that are laid in a variety of colors. Since they do not lay as many eggs as the Golden Comets, they generally have a longer chicken lifespan. Easter Egger can live around 8 years old. Read more about Easter Egger.

Summary

Chickens are fascinating creatures that can make excellent backyard pets or utilized as a barnyard animal. Whichever the case, proper care of your chicken will ensure that it lives out its chicken lifespan properly.

How Long Do Chickens Lay Eggs

how long do chickens lay eggs

The trend of producing one’s own food has brought the farm into the city. One such area that has grown in recent years is the keeping of backyard chickens for fresh eggs. Once people have tasted just how much better “home-grown” eggs are, they never want to go back to plain old store eggs.

Like any keeping of livestock, though, people must plan ahead so that they have a steady supply of eggs, as hens have a limited working life span. How long do chickens lay eggs?

There are several factors that affect the production of eggs by a hen:

  • Breed – Varieties bred as layers will produce more consistently than meat varieties. Some varieties produce larger amounts for a shorter time, while others have a longer laying span with a lower peak production.
  • Age – Once mature, around five months of age, a hen will lay an egg roughly every day and a half until she is around two or three years old, after which production tapers off.
  • Rooster to Hen Ratio – Multiple roosters will vie for dominance, stressing the hens, making them produce less.
  • Housing – Hens kept in a safe area with adequate lighting and access to shelter will lay longer.
  • Diet – A steady supply of eggs requires a proper, balanced diet to be consistently fed.

Choosing your Breed

chicken that lays eggs

In the above list, age and breed of chicken are the top determiners of how long a hen will lay. Breed determines how long an individual chicken will produce. Large-scale producers use varieties that begin to lay at 16 to 18 weeks.

The chickens produce large amounts of eggs for a year and a half or two before laying drops dramatically. Examples of this kind of chicken are Lohmann Brown, Black Star, and Freedom Ranger.

On the other hand, heritage breeds mature more slowly, beginning to lay at 20 weeks. These chickens produce fewer eggs, but they do so longer than production breeds. Thus they are a good choice for backyard egg production.

Varieties in this category include Rhode Island Red, Fayoumi, Barnevelder, and Barred Rock. These breeds lay consistently for three to four years on average, but Rhode Island Red chickens have been strong producers even at 5 or 6 years, with some still laying at 7 or 8 when living in optimal conditions.

Some breeds are known for particularly high disease resistance, which has a positive effect on their laying lifespan. Please note that there are variations in egg production among breeds in this category. Read up on average egg production for any breed that interests you so that you are not mistakenly disappointed by a low yield.

Put a lot of work into planning for your flock. If possible, buy chickens from different breeds and both categories to ensure that you have a steady supply of eggs as soon as possible and for as long as possible. Mix Black Star, for example, with Rhode Island Reds and Australorps so that you are not stuck waiting for a new shipment of chicks to mature and start laying.

Provide a Comfortable Coop

chicken that lays eggs

A good coop is necessary for chicken safety; after all, if a predator grabs one, it will not be laying for you. The predators also stress chickens, causing them to lay less.

This coop also makes gathering eggs much easier and is considered necessary for flightier breeds, such as Fayoumi, that would otherwise leave eggs in random spots in your yard for an unpleasant surprise later. There are many ways to build coops, but there are foundational features that you need to include for a productive flock:

  • Enough space, 5-8 square feet per bird if fully confined
  • Light to stimulate egg production, around 16 hours a day
  • Insulation for cold weather, if needed
  • Adequate ventilation to prevent ammonia buildup and its nasty consequences
  • Proper flooring that is easily washed, such as plywood covered with Tyvek
  • Nest boxes, which should have an opening of 10 by 10 inches and be easily accessible
  • Roosting perches, so they can sleep safely

When you see to the comfort of your chickens in their coop, they will lay for years, going to the end of the range with ease.

Above all, make sure you keep the coop clean and in good repair. A clean, safe environment takes much stress from your chickens’ lives so that their energy is directed in a useful way, that is to say, egg laying.

Ensure that your chickens have as much space as possible to roam. After all, the term “cooped up” has negative connotations. If you have the space, let your chickens run free during the day.

Some people who a raising chickens in a more suburban or urban environment confine chickens to a fenced-in spot or use a chicken tractor or portable run so that they know where their chickens are at all times.

The recommended wire mesh size is a half inch square, as that will keep out most predators, even smaller snakes. If desired, you can add roofing to keep your chickens out of talon’s reach.

Chickens require food to make eggs, but what should it be? A laying diet needs large amounts of protein and calcium, much of which comes from commercial poultry pellets. These pellets have a grain and seed base and should comprise around 16 percent of the diet.

The rule of thumb is that four pounds of feed will be needed for one dozen eggs. The calcium comes from a supplemental source supplied separately. If your chickens have little room to peck and roam, it is particularly important to ensure their food has everything they need.

Even with free-range chickens, there are a number of things you can add to their diet to ensure a productive working life. Most fruit and vegetable scraps are a dandy way to get your birds more minerals.

The only forbidden ones are raw green peels, such as those from potatoes, and citrus fruits. Processed whole grains, such as pastas, are also part of a healthy diet. Make sure you use high-quality feed that, if possible, is organic, as certain hazardous chemicals have a negative effect on health and egg production.

Chickens also enjoy a treat now and then. Foods that are often used as such range from what you’d consider eating, like apples, broccoli, and pumpkin, to downright gross, like worms.

Feeding to lay strong

chicken eggs production

In general, your chicken can eat what you do, but there are exceptions. Never give anything fatty, sugary, or salty, such as highly processed snack foods. Rhubarb, avocado, and garlic are not good for them and should never be put in the feed trough. If you do, your bird will not lay eggs for long.

Food should be presented in a proper fashion. Although the image of scattering grain on the ground is popular, it is not always a good way to feed chickens. If your chickens are confined for some reason, invest in a feeding trough to dispense their food.

In doing so, rather than simply scattering seed, you will not mix feed and droppings. This prevents nasty parasitic infections, such as coccidiosis, from starting, spreading, and eventually killing your chickens by malnutrition.

Chickens need a lot of water to produce eggs. Make sure that they have access to a steady supply of clean water. If neglected, you will have to wait around a week for them to begin laying again.

Protect hens

Hens will lay eggs without the presence of a rooster; one is needed certainly if you plan on breeding your hens. However, their presence can sometimes cause problems. In fact, too many roosters increase the stress of the flock by their fights for dominance, stressing the chickens and decreasing the amount of eggs they lay.

The optimal ratio is one rooster per six to nine hens. If you keep around a single rooster for six to nine hens, he will warn the flock when predators come, giving them time to find cover. They will also take on predators occasionally, keeping your chickens from an untimely demise.

YouTube comments are replete with stories of roosters who died to protect their flock from hawks and the like. Having a rooster or two is having a built-in warning system and guard.

Summary

Many people enjoy chickens in their yard. The thought of enjoying fresh, tasty eggs makes the work worthwhile for many. How long do chickens lay eggs that owners can enjoy? In general, it is around two to three years before production tapers off.

However, by seeing to the cleanliness and comfort of the chickens’ surroundings, you can make the most of those years and possibly extend them. Some breeds lay more than others, but a clean, low-stress environment will do any chicken good, regardless of age or breed.

What Do Baby Chicks Eat?

what does chicks eat

Raising chickens from hatchlings to adult hens provides numerous benefits; chickens provide pest-control and weed-control, offer a means for easily disposing of kitchen scraps, produce natural fertilizer that is great for gardens and flowerbeds, and, of course, can offer a ready supply of fresh, tasty eggs and nutritious, all-natural meat.

But to get those benefits, you need to start them off the right way with the proper diet that they need as chicks.

Chicks grow rapidly in their first few weeks and so require correctly formulated food to ensure healthy development. So what do baby chicks eat? And why is the right diet important for them? These guidelines can help make sure that you are feeding them what they need when they need it.

Feeding Newly Hatched Chicks

What do chicks eat when they first come out of their shells? The answer might surprise you: nothing. For the first 48 hours after they hatch, baby chickens require no food or water. They are still being sustained by the nutrients from the egg yolk, which their body has absorbed and is still processing up until they break out of the shell.

After the chick has hatched, it should be allowed to rest and dry out in the incubator for six to 12 hours before being moved into the brooder, where food and drink are first introduced.

Beginning with Starter Feed

what do baby chicks eat

Baby chicks should not be fed adult chicken food: adult food lacks sufficient protein to help the chicks grow and remain healthy in their critical, vulnerable early weeks. Adult food is also too high in calcium for baby chicks; consuming too much calcium can lead to serious medical complications in young chickens, including an untreatable and potentially fatal form of kidney damage.

Baby chicks should be started on what is known as “starter feed” or, sometimes, “chick crumb”.

This commercially available chicken feed is designed to balance precisely the nutrients that baby chicks require, including an optimal range of between 15% and 20% protein, as well as amino acids for development, prebiotics and probiotics for immune health, and vitamins and minerals for bone health.

The best brands of starter feed are organic and non-GMO, containing only natural ingredients and no artificial fillers, preservatives, or chemicals. Most are available from a local feed or farm store, or they can be ordered online from specialty retailers.

Ideally, the starter feed that you use for your baby chicks should contain only unprocessed whole grains. Avoid the products that are filled out with soy and corn, which can provide a great deal of starch but very little nutritional benefit to your chicks.

You might be tempted to try making your own starter feed at home, but the risks of doing this are high. Baby chicks require a very precisely balanced diet to ensure their proper development, and their young digestive systems are not tolerant of much deviation from that diet.

If you mix the feed incorrectly, you could seriously harm your chick or cause long-term developmental damage. Malnourished baby chicks seldom grow into productive egg-layers or bulk up enough to be suitable as meat sources.

First Days in the Brooder

what can baby chicks eat

When you move the baby chicks into the brooder, you should already have a container with fresh, clean water for them. In some cases, sugar, vitamins, or mineral supplements might be added to the chick’s water for the first day or two.

Use a container that cannot be knocked over and has an opening designed to prevent waste from getting in and contaminating the water supply, and that will keep chicks from falling in and drowning. Make sure that it stays filled at all times and that the water remains clean.

Both chicks and adult chickens will drink twice as much water as the amount of food that they eat, so having a ready water source is essential.

Water should be at room temperature (so do not place it under heat lamps in the brooder) and should be supplied at a rate of two quarts per every 10 chicks, separated into containers no larger than one quart each. On a daily basis, empty, wash, and refill the water containers.

Towards the end of their first day in the brooder, or early on the second day, sprinkle some grains of feed into the brooder. Some chicks may not show an interest at first—baby chicks spend most of their first few days sleeping and building up energy after the exhausting process of breaking out of their shells.

Eventually, however, they will become curious about the sound of the feed being dropped in and will investigate it.

Once they have taken to the feed—usually by their third day in the brooder—set out low-lying or trough feeders for easy access (clean egg cartons, cut in two, work well), providing four linear inches of space in the feeder per baby chick.

Do not place them under the heat lamps in the brooder. Empty, clean, and refill the feeder daily, and keep a close eye on it to make sure that it stays supplied and does not become contaminated by waste or water. As the chicks grow, raise the level of the feeders so they are even with the bird’s backs.

Moving Beyond Starter Feed

what to feed baby chicks

Avoid giving baby chicks any special treats in their first two weeks in the brooder. It is essential during this period that they mainly eat the nutritionally balanced starter feed. Introducing treats too early will make them less likely to desire the starter feed and may even confuse them about what the taste and smell of food should be.

If you do introduce treats, remember that the baby chick’s digestive system is still very delicate and prone to disruption. Start with mild and healthy snacks, like a lettuce leaf hung up in the brooder, some oatmeal scattered in the brooder, or some corn kernels chopped up very small.

When you do introduce snacks, it is also essential that you provide the baby chicks with a ready supply of grit in a separate container inside the brooder. This fine granular substance is swallowed into the chicken’s gizzard, where it works with the power of the organ’s muscle contractions to mash up food into a digestible slurry.

Commercially produced grit made of sand, granite, or parakeet can be obtained and is specially formulated in size and composition for baby chicks. Do not give grit formulated for adult birds to baby chicks. Never feed ground up oyster shells to baby chicks; the high levels of calcium in the shells will result in potentially deadly damage to the bird’s kidneys.

At eight weeks of age, baby chicks should be shifted off the starter feed and in its place, they should be given “grower feed” (at this age, they can also explore more complex snacks, like worms, bugs and chicken scratch).

To help chicks make this transition, mix starter feed and grower feed together, gradually shifting the proportion of the combination towards more and more grower feed over a couple of weeks.

Grower feed provides less protein than starter feed (typically about 16%). Chickens should continue on the grower feed until they reach the start of their laying age, which is usually around 18 to 21 weeks of age, depending on the breed.

Whether or Not to Use Medicated Food

what do you feed baby chickens

Medicated feed is fortified with a medication—usually amprolium—that helps chickens combat the common, and potentially deadly, parasitic intestinal disease coccidiosis.

Baby chicks that have been vaccinated against coccidiosis already, either by a veterinarian or by a commercial hatchery, must not be fed medicated feed as it will kill off the coccidiosis strain in the vaccine and render the bird susceptible to the disease.

Baby chicks who are kept in a clean brooder that is regularly emptied of waste and provides plenty of space are less likely to contract coccidiosis and so generally do not require medicated feed.

Chicks who are raised in cramped conditions, such as factory farms or in household settings that involve more than 50 chicks in one space, are likely to contract the disease and thus should be given medicated feed. Some medicated feeds contain antibiotics, but these should only be used under instructions from a livestock veterinarian.

Feeding Sick Baby Chicks

Ensuring that sick, malnourished, or underdeveloped baby chicks are properly hydrated is the first priority. Use a dropper or a spoon and, if necessary, water fortified with electrolytes.

The finely chopped-up hard-boiled egg can provide sick baby chicks with a boost of protein and many of the nutrients that their body needed to absorb when it was inside the egg. These can help it start to recover its stamina and eventually shift to starter feed.